As children, we tended to live with wild abandon. At least, I did. I remember spending more time outside exploring and trying new things, than I spent time in front of the TV. In the summers, my sisters and I would spend nearly every waking moment outside. As soon as we finished eating breakfast, we were out the door, and typically, running straight into the woods. The edge of the woods was thick with thorn bushes and weeds, so we’d have to use a long stick to part a sliver through the twisting, prickling thicket, just large enough to squeeze through. Hardly ever did we make our entry or exit without sustaining at least a few red beaded surface scratches on our arms, legs, and faces. But it never stopped us. Into the woods, with wild abandon, and a thirst for adventure, we plunged through the thorns and spider webs.
Once through the woods thick protective boarder, the woods opened up into a wonderland of fallen trees to climb on, fields of skunk cabbage to laugh about, and red clay filled creeks to play in. We could spend hours in the woods every single day trying to explore every inch of the place.
It was our place. There weren’t any adults telling us we couldn’t touch something, or couldn’t do something. If we wanted to climb across a half-rotted tree to cross the clay filled creek – we did it. If we wanted to climb a tree till its top was bending and swaying from our weight – we did it. If we wanted to dig clay out of the creek bed and make our own pots and sculptures – we did it. Then we painted them with purple choke berries. If we wanted to build a fort in the middle of the woods – we did it.
As children, our eagerness for new things, and our spontaneity was a force to be reckoned with. As adults, we tend to fall into habits, due to our busy schedules, and we end up losing that incredibly refreshing and addictive thirst for adventure. It beckons to us daily, but we are often too hard headed to hear or heed it. We scan feeds on our computers of distant paradises, stare in awe at pictures of natural wonders, watch videos of people doing wild and death defying stunts, and we constantly tell ourselves, “one day”.
Oh, to be a child again – to have that sense of, ‘Who the hell cares? I’m doing this, right now!’ Where would I go? What would I do? Probably, everywhere and everything. As a child, that strip of untouched woods seemed so huge to me, and it was packed full of adventure every time I pushed through the thorns to get there.
Now, the entire world is my strip of adventure filled woods, and my thicket of thorns I push through is my adult reservations, responsibilities, and obligations. Every day, I tell myself, “you’ll have an adventure this weekend.”
Being a writer means my adventures often involve me delving into the worlds within my own mind so I can create them on paper for others. I guess I must give credit to that wonderful aspect of being an adult – we can be content for a time to adventure in a book, rather than the wild woods.
But as I look back at my childhood, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic and longingly for the innocence of being spontaneous and wild. Building a fort in the living room with blankets, chairs, and couch cushions. Playing flashlight tag on a warm summer night. Running and dancing in the rain with my mom and sisters (which is my absolute favorite memory of my mother). And snacking on wild blackberries, crab apples, and honeysuckle flowers after a long hike in the woods. So simple and innocent, but some of the strongest memories I have.
Here’s to tearing an old T-shirt apart, tying it to a stick, and drawing a crest of innocent defiance upon it. Here’s to marching with wild abandon, through the thicket of thorn, and emerging on the other side, in the land of endless adventure. Here’s to planting our flag of spontaneity in our hearts and trekking forward. Here’s to teaching our adult minds how to think like a child’s wild soul.
Here’s to the endless adventures awaiting us…